Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – Royal Wedding – Carrot and Banana by Dolly Aizenman

Welcome to a treat straight from the kitchens of Dolly Aizenman along with the history behind the recipe. As we anticipate a royal wedding in the UK in the spring perhaps I should forward this to the parties concerned. Details of Dolly’s recently released cook book later.

Royal Wedding – Carrot and Banana by Dolly Aizenman

February – the stores are decked out in red and pink hearts, furiously marketing in the name of love. Jewelers and bridal salons are having their best time of the year, measuring love in carats and yards of lace. It was in February, cold and gloomy, that King Henry VII, the first Tudor king, proposed to his widowed daughter-in-law, sixteen-year-old Princess Catalina of Aragon, known in England as Catherine.

via Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – Royal Wedding – Carrot and Banana by Dolly Aizenman


Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – Top Ten Things Not to Do If You Have a Winning Mega Millions Ticket by John W. Howell

The entertaining John W. Howell is going to share what not to do if you suddenly come into a windfall.. such as the mega-millions from a lottery win… I am off to spend my fiver!

via Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – Top Ten Things Not to Do If You Have a Winning Mega Millions Ticket by John W. Howell

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview – Author – Non-Fiction – Memoirs – D.G. Kaye

This week my lovely friend Debby, D.G. Kaye is taking over the hot seat and will sharing the background to why she rights non-fiction and memoirs, her publishing adventures, favourite music and the one big adventure she would like to experience.

d-g-kayeDebby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

via Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview – Author – Non-Fiction – Memoirs – D.G. Kaye

Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – The Wedding Dancer by Jennie Fitzkee

I have another treat for you with the next blog sitting post. Jennie Fitzkee has a wonderful blog where she shares stories of her life as a pre-school teacher. But in this post Jennie shares a hidden talent… well hidden from us up to now!

The Wedding Dancer by Jennie Fitzkee

Friends. Good friends. There are seven of us. Lucky Seven, I’d say. We met when our children were quite young and sang together in a premier children’s choral group. The group made two trips to England, including singing at Harrods and at St Martin-in-the-Fields. We stuck together through years of rehearsals and performances, a brilliant choir director who drank too much, and an organist who was as kind as Father Christmas to the children. The choir flourished, and so did our friendship.

I never really experienced diversity before. My southern upbringing where everyone was alike abruptly changed when I moved to New England. These ladies, good friends, were different from me. Our commonality was music, and that was the foundation for a life-long friendship.

Paula was the smart one, the leader, and a math genius.

Jane was the voice of standing up for what is right and wrong. She could have led the woman’s suffrage movement back in the day. She was also the chef.

Carolyn was the witty one and a brilliant writer. She reviewed all the theater performances in Boston.

Kathryn was the accomplished musician and an excellent nurse.

Alice was the outstanding teacher, working with blind students in Boston.

Elaine was the savvy one, the techy one. She also owned the great outdoors.

Death and illness intervened and brought us closer together. Alice’s husband died, and Paula’s husband became very ill. We started meeting for dinner every month. Then, we started meeting for a weekend every summer at Paula’s house on Lake Winnisquam in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, our children were going through teenage years and prep school applications. We cried. We laughed. Oh, how we laughed! We swam in the lake and became the Mermatrons. Too old to be mermaids, so matrons seemed to fit the title.

That humorously came to be pronounced merm-A-trons. Yes, we have a title. Our children are jealous, hoping that they find such a lifetime group of friends.

Music was always the bond, the glue. We shared our love of opera. I shared my love of R&B. We talked about the concerts we went to in college, and the great music of the 60’s and 70’s. I always said, “I want to be Aretha Franklin’s back-up singer.” I did, and I meant it. We played music at Paula’s on the lake, loud. Really loud. We sang and danced as if no time had passed since college.

Then, our children were older. Kathryn’s daughter was getting married. Kathryn said, “Jennie, you have always wanted to be Aretha Franklin’s back-up singer. Let’s do a performance at the wedding reception. You can lead us in a song and dance.”

Whoa! Me? Leading a R&B song and doing a performance? I protested, but finally caved.
I had to pick a song and decided on “One Fine Day” by the Chiffons. Costumes were white gloves. Picture a hand in the glove, and a finger waving and hips moving as we sang the words, “one fine day.”

Our practices were… hysterical. We were so bad that we laughed more than we sang. Wine helped, or maybe it didn’t help. Dancing to music looked like snow shoveling. At one practice, a client of Carolyn’s husband arrived, just in time to see us in all our glory, or less than glory. Paula’s son was there to help. Oh, we needed help. He clapped his hands together saying, “Ladies in the back row.” We knew we were bad. We’d never had so much fun.

We dubbed that as one of our top-ten Mermatron moments.

The wedding reception arrived, and so did we. I was (gulp) front and center. Carolyn and all her wit announced us, and… we were a big hit. Standing ovation. The audience asked for an encore. Encore? Carolyn’s parting words to the crowd at the end of our performance were, “Ladies and gentlemen, as we speak, Federal Agents from the Witness Protection Program are waiting to escort the performers…”

Out first wedding performance was a smash!

Paula’s younger son was the next to get married. After the success that happened at the previous wedding, we were asked to perform. This time, I had to be prepared for a song AND an encore. Clearly the 60’s female groups were our thing, at least for weddings. I picked “Heat Wave” by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. We wore white boas, long white gloves, and white cat-eye rhinestone-studded glasses. This was far more costume than the short white gloves we had worn before. The movements to the words would have topped any 60’s group. We had it nailed!

Then came the encore, “Gimme Some Lovin” by the Spencer Davis Group. I knew it had to be good, and not a female R&B song, as it was the encore! We practiced. More wine and more laughing helped. Well, sort of. Before the wedding, my husband and I attended a friend’s wedding. The DJ at the reception was taking requests for songs, and I knew I needed a practice in front of an audience. He played the song, I sang and danced… and everybody was watching. Everybody, including the kitchen help. Yes, they came out of the kitchen to watch.


I danced in front of a group of hundreds of people. Alone. I brought the house down. I had to practice for my friend’s wedding. Afterwards, a new acquaintance said, “Jennie, I didn’t know you were, uh, like that.” Little did he know I’m not. The power of music is remarkable.
At the Mermatron’s wedding reception we slipped away to “dress” in our boas, glasses, and long white gloves. “Heat Wave” has a long instrumental introduction with plenty of rhythm and soul- perfect for walking onto the stage. You could have heard a pin drop except for the music. I think the Mermatrons were relieved I was up front in case they screwed up, or had a sudden fit of hysterical laughter. Oh, we were good! Swinging hips and shoulders, waving arms up high, or open wide, with great exaggeration, of course. I think Martha Reeves and the Vandellas had real competition.

As soon as the song ended, and all the clapping and cheering died down, we turned our backs to the audience, took off the boas, glasses, and gloves, and grabbed dark sunglasses. Time for “Gimme Some Lovin”, the encore! Turning around to face the audience, we stood stone-faced, feet apart, and holding sunglasses behind our backs.

The music began with the heavy sound of five, do-do-do-do-do beats. We slowly put on our sunglasses at the second round of beats, keeping rhythm to the music. That was our killer opening move. This dance was heavy rock, not the smooth beats of R&B. We shook our hair, bent over shaking our shoulders, and pulled in an imaginary rope. Remember Dan Aykroyd in “The Great Outdoors”, dancing at the end of the movie and pulling his wife in with a ‘rope’? Yeah, that was the (great) move we did.

Just when wedding dancing seemed like a distant, lovely Mermatron memory, Kathryn’s other daughter married, and of course she wanted us to perform at her reception. The Chiffons came through again with “He’s So Fine.” Love that R&B. No boas, just long white gloves and the rhinestone studded white glasses. As we had a last rehearsal in the wings, Paula’s son remarked, “The ladies in the back row now have separate movements. Wow!” Can you picture 60-year-olds orchestrating and actually dancing to a hit song, with separate movements? We did, and we made The Chiffons proud. Carolyn introduced us as the Merm-a-tones. The audience roared their approval, and we danced the night away.

Paula’s oldest son was the next to marry. Mr. Ladies in the Back Row probably knew us better than any of our children. Naturally, we decided on the best wedding song ever, “Chapel of Love”, by the Dixie Cups. As with all the wedding dancing events, I spent the previous month singing the song under my breath at every moment, and unconsciously working on ‘cool moves’. Yes, in public. The stares were priceless. My husband did not feel the same way, though. I spied bling rings at the checkout counter at Pier One and lost it. I turned into a four-year-old on Christmas morning. I grabbed seven rings and tried to tell the sales lady how perfect they’ll be on top of the white gloves. She didn’t respond. I tried to explain the song and dance while trying on every ring, then noticed the silence around me. My husband clenched his teeth, paid for the rings, and pulled me out of the store.

Since this was the wedding of the hip, cool child, we went all out and decided to finish the song by immediately going into the latest, greatest, coolest music of the day- Gangnam Style! Well, first we had to learn that dance. So, two YouTube videos to the rescue, and lots of wine. One video was instructional. We followed along, or at least tried to. That was a sight not to behold. Laughter caused serious bladder control issues. A friend aged twenty-something watched us jump and cross our wrists, the key dance move, and commented that we looked like scarecrows. Now that was encouraging. Although, rolling our derrieres was a move we got down pat. Pun intended?

At the wedding reception, we entered the stage walking in a line, each with a hand on the shoulder of the lady in front of us. We flashed those bling rings at the audience and nearly brought the house down. But, no time to pause, as we immediately transitioned to Gangnam Style, including wearing singer PSY’s sunglasses. The audience enthusiastically whistled and clapped along to the beat. That certainly helped, and we pulled it off, beautifully.

Fast forward to today. One of our children has been friends with Meghan Markle for quite a while. If he is invited to the Royal Wedding, don’t you think he should suggest the Mermatrons as entertainment? Wait! We could ask Her Majesty the Queen to join the ladies in the back row!

Laughter makes the world all the better. So do good friends. Hats off to the Mermatrons and our wedding dancing adventures.

©Jennie Fitzkee images 2018

Wasn’t that a wonderful post of friendship, music and laughter and I know that Jennie would love your feedback..

About Jennie Fitzkee

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It’s the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That’s what I write about.

I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, “The Read-Aloud Handbook” because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.

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I look forward to checking up on your comments when I get back next Wednesday and thanks again to Jennie for a lovely post.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview – Author – Non-Fiction – Memoirs – D.G. Kaye

This week my lovely friend Debby, D.G. Kaye is taking over the hot seat and will sharing the background to why she rights non-fiction and memoirs, her publishing adventures, favourite music and the one big adventure she would like to experience.

d-g-kayeDebby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Time to find out more about Debby’s chosen subjects.

Thanks for having me over here today Sal. It’s always a pleasure to be featured on your esteemed blog.

Tell us about your genre of books that you write and why.

I’ve always been a ‘tell it the way it is’ kind of girl. In fact, I’m pretty sure I should have been a reporter. I’m a nonfiction/memoir writer and no matter how hard I try to get around that by dabbling into the odd fiction writing piece, it always seemed I was writing on factual incidents, so I decided why bother packing it as fiction, why not just own up to it and tell the truth. All my stories have lessons in them that others can take from them. And when a story isn’t about a serious topic, I’ll always try to inject humor whenever I can. Why? Because sometimes we all just need to look for the funny.

What adventures have you had publishing your work?

Seriously? I could write another book with my adventures and mishaps of self-publishing, but I’ll share a few here.

Before I began writing my first book, I spent a year trying to learn the business of publishing. I signed up for many newsletters from some of the pioneers in the biz to learn the essentials about how editors worked, what formatting entailed, the importance of good, professional book covers, and marketing. I was overwhelmed to say the least but my passion to write books was stronger than my fear of the publishing process. Through the course of writing and publishing 6 books, I learned a lot about what makes a good book cover, a painful lesson on hiring the wrong editor, what a properly formatted book entails (without learning the actual process of formatting myself, but I give good directives, lol), and the importance of sharing, caring and giving back where I can.

I am humble. And I never forget how intimidating it was for me to publish my first book and the people who reached out to give me great advice and a helping hand when I was eager to learn and grateful for any help anyone could offer me. That help came in ways of suggestions for editors, formatters, cover artists, promotional opportunities and friendships I slowly made along the way with other writers who had generously given of their time to help me solve many dilemmas along the way.

What kind of music do you listen to and who are your favourite musicians?

I enjoy quite a few genres of music, depending on my mood. It’s funny, there was a time in my life where music was always on wherever I went – home or otherwise, until the writing bug set in and I can’t concentrate with any distractions including music. But when I do listen I love 70s music the most. Oh, I enjoy pop music from all decades, but something about the music of some of the great musicians from that decade just make me want to sing – The Eagles, America, The Guess Who, ELO, Earth Wind and Fire, well you get my drift.

But I also happen to love R & B, and preferably tunes from the 80s and 90s in that genre. And these last few years I’ve also become a big Country and Western fan. I think that grew along with my love for the Southwest USA – Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Lady Antebellum, Vince Gill, Tim McGraw and many more.

What is the one big adventure that you would like to experience?

I would love to participate in some writing conferences, author get-togethers, The Blogger’s Bash, and a girl’s holiday on a cruise-ship vacation one day! Writing can be a solitary life and I know that I’m so grateful to have many wonderful friends I’ve made through my writing and blogging and many of you live in different countries – predominantly the US and the UK. I really feel it’s time to meet some of my far away friends in real time. I shall see what this new year brings. These are bucket list wishes. 😊

Tell us about your WIP, plans for your blog and any special events coming up.

I wrote a post in January, outlining my plans for what I intend to share on my blog this year.

They are as follows:

• Sunday Book Reviews
• Guest Author Interviews (one scheduled for January, more to resume come April)
• Inspirational Posts
• Informational Share Posts
• Opinionated Posts
• Monthly #WATWB Contribution Posts (We are the World Blogfest)
• More Guest Post Features

These are my plans so far. As we all know, plans can change, but intentions are good, and plans help us be accountable. I’m also hoping to get involved in some Podcasting to expand my authorly horizons. And I think it’s time to venture into some freelance writing to supplement income. As far as book writing goes, I’d like to take a year off publishing another book because it eats up a good few months of my time doing so, and I want to explore new marketing avenues and activities to engage my readers and followers. I say I won’t publish another book this year, but I don’t know if I believe myself, lol. Let’s just say I’ve started a new journal with some new book ideas. I think my next book will be geared more toward the self-help genre than memoir. And I really want to write a humorous book too, so this may be a combined effort. I have a rough outline of ideas only for a book on ‘The changes after the change’. Probably won’t be pretty, but hopefully, plenty of laughs.

Okay, I know my time is up here, but I just wanted to leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

“Life is not measured by the amount of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.” ~ Author Unknown

And I’d love to share one of my favorite songs here in a video clip because I love the artist, the melody and the message:

Thanks Debby for sharing your adventures in publishing which have resulted in some wonderful books, and also your plans for the future.

This is D.G. Kaye’s latest release in December 2017.

About Twenty Years: After “I Do”.

May/December memoirs.

In this personal accounting, D.G. Kaye shares the insights and wisdom she has accrued through twenty years of keeping her marriage strong and thriving despite the everyday changes and challenges of aging. Kaye reveals how a little creative planning, acceptance, and unconditional love can create a bond no obstacle will break. Kaye’s stories are informative, inspiring, and a testament to love eclipsing all when two people understand, respect, and honor their vows. She adds that a daily sprinkling of laughter is a staple in nourishing a healthy marriage.

Twenty years began with a promise. As Kaye recounts what transpired within that time, she shows that true love has no limits, even when one spouse ages ahead of the other.

Here is one of the recent reviews for the book

“Twenty Years After I Do” is a love story, all the more compelling because it is true. Kaye shines a light under the table, exposing those things many of us prefer to keep out of sight. For all of the unpleasant topics in the book, this is not a depressing journey. She doesn’t say that love concours all, but she shows us, through her own life, that it so often does. More accurately, she explains that love will help us face whatever outcome life gives us.

The author is one of the decreasing number of people who understand that marriage is “ti deathl do us part.” Staying together is not optional, it’s not a choice to be made. That choice was made with the speaking of the words, “I Do.” She shows us that love and humor are tools we can use to overcome obstacles we would have thought unsurmountable.

This is a good read. Reading it has made me feel like I’ve made a friend.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

and Amazon UK:

Other books by D.G. Kaye


Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and Amazon UK:

More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads:

Connect to Debby Gies

About me:
Twitter: (yes there’s a story)

Debby would be delighted to receive your feedback and any questions and I will be back on Wednesday to check out the comments. Thanks for dropping in.. Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – Life in a cardboard box! The Chocolate Run! by Carol Taylor

Most of you will be familiar with Carol Taylor and her cooking and food posts and her new weekly food column. Today as part of the blog sitting series, Carol shares a life changing and emotive experience from a few years ago. This post might give you a different perspective about those who live on the streets.

Life in a cardboard box! The Chocolate Run! by Carol Taylor


This post was prompted by a friend of mine who wrote a post about poverty in foreign climes and it was a great post, sympathetically, written, backed up by a beautiful video and pictures. It tore at my heart -strings and rightly so.

It did however bring back memories for me when a good few years ago I was asked by a very dear ( now departed) friend to join her and some others on ” The Chocolate Run”

The name ‘Chocolate Run’ was coined because the charity set up over 40 years ago to provide hot chocolate drinks for homeless people in London as well as maintaining a haven during the Christmas period (where food, shelter and clothing was provided to homeless people in need).

Initially I did not know what to expect … I was told to be ready at 11pm…when normally I would be tucked up in my warm bed with a book, to wear warm clothes and comfortable shoes and don’t wear any jewelery(apart) from my wedding ring.

The mini bus was loaded up with urns of ” Hot Chocolate” and sandwiches..donated by local companies.

What I saw totally astounded me…..I was this girl/woman from a middle class family, cossetted, blinkered….I don’t know but I honestly wasn’t prepared for what I saw.

I don’t know if it was the old people or the very young or the obviously well -educated people who now slept on the streets…..What can be made out of a card board box ? I saw for myself and all this was in the affluent park area of Lincolns Inn Fields, London the home of Lawyers, solicitors and the ilk.

The reason for wearing no jewelery was not fear of robbery but to be sensitive and not flaunt what you had.

I spoke to men who had lost their businesses, their homes,had a breakdown, abandoned by friends and families, men who were highly educated but fell on bad times..Service men who fought for Queen and country…..How can you apply for a job when your address is the second park bench on the right????

Children and young people abused so they ran….so sad..because then the unscrupulous prayed on them…

Damm you..all those who do that to line your pockets or feed your perversions.

But what impressed me the most in this world of greed and power was when at Christmas in the freezing cold.. and I had a warm bed to go back to….we went armed with packs of a warm pair of sox, gloves,scarves,an Orange, a packet of fags and a lighter.

If we asked ” Do you want one” you didn’t get an answer…I learnt to just put it in their hands….. The look of thanks ..humbled me….But mostly what humbled me was..The man who said ” Mrs….. I have got one but old Joe over there hasn’t”

A man who had nothing and lived in a cardboard box…remembered and looked after his friend… I heard that statement more times in that one night than I have since.

How many of us do that…would you take two….most would….

This is why I took my children when they were old show them how in a blink of an eye or circumstance ….It could be them…

So when you look at all those poor unfortunate people in foreign climes..please also spare a thought for those closer to home….

This world we live in…this beautiful world….also has another side… wherever you are spare a thought, a smile, a touch on the shoulder, a small donation or gift and teach your children to spare a thought….Then hopefully the world will be a better place.

God Bless all those wonderful organisations all over the world who work to improve the lives of those less fortunate and also the individuals who do their bit.

So when you are travelling to all these beautiful places take a closer look…

Spare a penny!

©Carol Taylor 2016

My thanks to Carol for this thought provoking post on those who live in the shadows. I know that there are organisations who support and in many cases find accommodation for the homeless. But that doesn’t mean that we cannot make a difference to even one person by an act of kindness, or even acknowledgement.

About Carol Taylor

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetables ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use have to improve our health and wellbeing.

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:

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New additional Blog:


  You can find all of Carol’s articles for her food column here:


Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – The Kelpies, a pink bus shelter and two taxi drivers by M.J. Mallon

Very pleased to hand you over to another blog sitter this afternoon. Author M.J. Mallon. (Marjorie). An adventure in Scotland when Marjorie and her mother visited the famous Kelpies on their trip to Edinburgh.

The Kelpies, a pink bus shelter and two taxi drivers by M.J. Mallon


I’ve been longing to see the Kelpies, two enormous horse sculptures that live in Falkirk, Scotland. This had been on my bucket list of things to do whilst up in Edinburgh. Not only did I come face to face with the Kelpies I also met two entertaining taxi drivers and came across a bright pink bus shelter with no buses. Such is Scotland, it has a charm you can’t hope to find anywhere else in the world and that is why I love it so.

Mum and I set off the day after I arrived in Edinburgh. The weather seemed fair, so I wasn’t about to take any chances. In Scotland when it’s dry you go out, you don’t wait for the next day!

We travelled by train and arrived at Falkirk High hoping to take the bus to the Kelpies. As we went off in search of a bus we walked past three taxi drivers having a chat. I sensed that these three were not your ordinary run of the mill taxi drivers. The nearby bus stop had a timetable that stated a half an hour wait so mum and I decided to opt for a taxi.

This is when the fun began!

We asked the three taxi drivers if one of them could take us to see the Kelpies. They greeted us with enthusiasm, told us the price and suggested that we take the taxi at the front. It turned out that our driver had a dual career. He’d grown tired of plumbing and now worked as a taxi driver/plumber. He had a fine line of chat that could win him a job as a chat show host or a comedian at the Edinburgh Fringe. I’m not joking! His banter started as soon as we asked him the price to take us to the Kelpies. He said Scottish folk get a special rate of six or seven pounds but the English have to pay ten. Obviously, he had heard I live in Cambridge!

Thereafter, his commentary continued in a steady flow of detail about local tourist attractions such as Callandar House – Visit Scotland, as well as unexpected details such as taxi drivers not being able to use the toilet in the station. But, his pièce de résistance came in force towards the end of the journey. He suddenly waved his mobile at us, revealing a photo of him in a kilt. Obviously, this must have been set to that exact spot on his mobile for effect. I have to say he cut a very fine figure in his kilt! Mum and I were gob smacked. I have never had a taxi driver show me a photo of himself in a kilt before and this is when the conversation took an unexpected direction. He mentioned his surname, (which I’ll keep to myself,) and asked us if we knew how to check whether a kilt belonged to a McDonald clan member. We said no. His exact words escape me but he said something like: ‘You put your hands up the kilt, and if there are two quarter pounders up there, then you have your answer.’ We had to laugh at his crude joke – there was nothing else we could do!

Mr Kelpie reared up in shock!


Thereafter, he mentioned how he always wore his kilt during the festival. Mum asked him what he did whilst wearing his kilt during this busy time and he replied, ‘I get pissed.’

What a laugh! Oh my goodness, we were nearly there! The Kelpies were in sight.


He dropped us off and suggested that he could pick us up on the way back from the pink bus shelter and gave us his business card with his plumbing details on one side and his taxi service on the other. We wondered what the return journey would entail…. More banter about his kilt, perhaps?….

The Kelpies were magnificent. We took lots of photos, had a lovely cup of tea and cake and wonder of wonders we sat out in the café and had a walk around before it started to rain! Soon, it would be time to go home but not before we took some more photos. My mum, bless her, isn’t a fantastic photographer – this is her photo of me and the Kelpies!

She tried again and again and finally succeeded in taking a tiny photo of me beside the Kelpies. Unfortunately she cut one of their ears off, and the other one lost his nostrils but at least this photo gives you an indication of their mighty size!


Here’s my mum with the Kelpies doing their thing…


We returned to the very freshly painted bus stop shelter by the exit. A large poster said THERE ARE NO BUSES FROM THIS STOP (another peculiarity of Falkirk, a bus shelter posing as a bus stop with no hint of a bus in sight.) The nearest bus stop was at Falkirk Stadium. I wondered how far away this could be… a football kick away? Five minutes, or a mile? I asked a local lad directing traffic for advice and he said it was twenty minutes’ walk. This would have been great if it had been just me but my mum is getting older and a younger person’s twenty minutes’ walk is more like an elderly person’s mini marathon so we decided to get a taxi. The young man offered to book us a taxi so we accepted his kind offer. Of course this meant that we didn’t have a return trip with our taxi driver/cum plumber/kilt wearer which was somewhat disappointing…. But perhaps recommended!….

Our return journey taxi driver turned out to be a silent chap and mum and I sat at the back of the taxi waiting patiently for his much anticipated line of banter. I kind of missed Mr Kilt Taxi Driver but eventually Mr Strong Silent Taxi Driver spoke. He received a message telling him that his last pick up had left their phone in his taxi. Boy, the flood gates of speech opened! He said he gets the blame for stealing people’s phones and added that it was their fault as they can’t remember where they’d left their mobiles because they’re drunk. This led to a conversation about kids never admitting to doing wrong, and his daughter damaging his new flooring with her high heeled shoes. She said she didn’t do it, and his wife doesn’t wear high heels so I concluded that if his daughter and his wife are innocent then he must be a Taxi Driving Cross Dresser! But, of course I didn’t dare mention that to him as he was a big burly bloke who probably wouldn’t be seen dead in a dress or a kilt.

So, what an adventure the Kelpies turned out to be! Don’t you agree?
If you’re ever in Falkirk don’t miss out, go and see the Kelpies. You must and make sure you visit the pink bus shelter and take a taxi! Who knows who you might meet?

©M.J. Mallon images 2017

About The Curse of Time: Book One – Bloodstone – a YA fantasy and science fiction adventure.

On Amelina Scott’s thirteenth birthday, her father disappears under mysterious circumstances. Saddened by this traumatic event, she pieces together details of a curse that has stricken the heart and soul of her family.

Amelina longs for someone to confide in. Her once carefree mother has become angry and despondent. One day a strange black cat and a young girl, named Esme appear. Immediately, Esme becomes the sister Amelina never had. The only catch is that Esme must remain a prisoner, living within the mirrors of Amelina’s house.

Dreams and a puzzling invitation convince Amelina the answer to her family’s troubles lies within the walls of the illusive Crystal Cottage. Undaunted by her mother’s warnings, Amelina searches for the cottage on an isolated Cambridgeshire pathway where she encounters a charismatic young man, named Ryder. At the right moment, he steps out of the shadows, rescuing her from the unwanted attention of two male troublemakers.

With the help of an enchanted paint set, Amelina meets the eccentric owner of the cottage, Leanne, who instructs her in the art of crystal magic. In time, she earns the right to use three wizard stones. The first awakens her spirit to discover a time of legends, and later, leads her to the Bloodstone, the supreme cleansing crystal which has the power to restore the balance of time. Will Amelina find the power to set her family free?

A YA/middle grade fantasy set in Cambridge, England exploring various themes/aspects: Light, darkness, time, shadows, a curse, magic, deception, crystals, art, poetry, friendships, teen relationships, eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, depression, family, puzzles, mystery, a black cat, music, a mix of sadness, counterbalanced by a touch of humour.

One of the reviews for the book on Goodreads

Nov 19, 2017 Shelley Wilson November 19th 2017

The Curse of Time is a young adult fantasy novel set in Cambridge, England.

This book has a complex mix of themes running through it, and at times my head did spin as I tried to keep up. Amelina is a likeable character. She receives enchanted gifts and dreams about an elusive cottage. Her parents can’t offer her the support she needs, and instead, she turns to Esme, a friend who lives in the mirror.

As a qualified crystal therapist, I liked the inclusion of crystals throughout the story.

Our clasped hands shook with fear. I waited, afraid to witness the effect the Black Obsidian would have on my friends and me next. Our eyes met, and we strengthened our hold, clasping our hands tighter. The blackness of the moment grew. A flowing ribbon of dark, velvety light encircled our hands and bound our palms together sealing our bond.

There is also a strong personal development theme running through the book which I enjoyed.

As with all coming-of-age stories, Amelina grows as the story unfold. Learning who to trust, and how to use her gifts.  Enjoyable novel.

 Read the other reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon US:

Follow M.J. Mallon on Goodreads:

About M.J. Mallon

I am a debut author who has been blogging for three years: My interests include writing, photography, poetry, and alternative therapies. I write Fantasy YA, and middle grade fiction as well as micropoetry – haiku and tanka. I love to read and have written over 100 reviews:…

My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheros! I was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit,) second child and only daughter to my proud parents Paula and Ronald. I grew up in a mountainous court in the Peak District in Hong Kong with my elder brother Donald. My parents dragged me away from my exotic childhood and my much loved dog Topsy to the frozen wastelands of Scotland. In bonnie Edinburgh I mastered Scottish country dancing, and a whole new Och Aye lingo.

As a teenager I travelled to many far-flung destinations to visit my abacus wielding wayfarer dad. It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and my two enchanted daughters.

After such an upbringing my author’s mind has taken total leave of its senses! When I’m not writing, I eat exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surf to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out, I practise Tai Chi. If the mood takes me I snorkel with mermaids, or sign up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.

Connect to Marjorie Mallon


My thanks to Marjories for sharing her day out and I would certainly love to visit these magnificent statues. I am sure that Marjorie would love to receive your feedback. thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – Top Ten Things Not to Do If You Have a Winning Mega Millions Ticket by John W. Howell

The entertaining John W. Howell is going to share what not to do if you suddenly come into a windfall.. such as the mega-millions from a lottery win… I am off to spend my fiver!

Top Ten things not to do

Top Ten Things Not to Do If You Have a Winning Mega Millions Ticket by John W. Howell

The inspiration for this post is the fact that this week there were single winning tickets sold for the Mega Millions and Powerball Lotto games. You and I don’t have to worry about how to handle these winnings so I guess this post is dedicated to those two winners of over $400 million each.

10 If you have a winning Mega Millions ticket, do not tweet “Yay I just won $400 million. If you do at best, you’ll only have ten followers. At worst, your tweet will go viral, and you will now have a million close and personal friends. (Looks like everyone needs a loan huh, Carmichael?)

9 If you have a winning Mega Millions ticket, do not hire Tiny the WWF champ as a bodyguard. If you do, at best you’ll have to hire another to watch Tiny. At worst, Tiny will not be able to resist helping himself to your winnings even though he is a graduate of an intensive self-help course for kleptomaniacs. (You should have known when he showed up at your door offering his services, Carswell.)

8 If you have a winning Mega Millions ticket, do not give a press conference on national TV. If you do, at best it will take you hours to get home because of the traffic jam around your house. At worst, you will be asked for money everyplace you go since you are now well-known. (Who’s bright idea was that conference, Casimero? Oh yeah the lotto company.)

7 If you have a winning Mega Millions ticket, do not answer your phone. If you do, at best it might be your aunt, Mary. At worst, it will be your cousin Vinny reminding you of the five dollar bet you had back in high school. (Vinny believes that the interest on the bet now makes it worth $500,000. Told you not to answer the phone, Cassian.)

6 If you have a winning Mega Millions ticket, do not claim your prize without consulting a tax attorney. If you do, at best you can afford the tax hit. At worst, the new tax laws will put you in a bracket called the 110 percent bracket. (Good luck in raising the extra $4o million you owe, Caster.)

5 If you have a winning Mega Million ticket, do not go out and buy everything on the planet. If you do, at best you’ll come to your senses while there is still money left. At worst, you’ll realize too late that there is no return guarantee on yachts, planes, castles, jewelry, and art. (Now that you have all this stuff, Cavan maybe it is time for a garage sale.)

4 If you have a winning Mega Million ticket, do not let the ticket out of your sight. If you do, at best it will still be where you left it last. At worst, the ticket will ride in your shirt pocket through the wash. (Those tickets sure come out clean don’t they, Chadburn? You would hardly know it used to be worth $400 million.)

3 If you have a winning Mega Million ticket, do not quit work. If you do, at best the ticket is genuine. At worst, though some computer error your ticket is not the winner. (So much for telling the boss where he could shove your job, huh Chiko?)

2 If you have the winning Mega Millions ticket, do not forget to look both ways before crossing the street. If you do, at best the traffic will be light. At worst, your heirs will be enjoying the fruit of your lotto win. (Hard to tell where that truck came from right, Cal?)

1 If you have the winning Mega Millions ticket, do not fail to set aside some for charity. If you do at best, you’ll be labeled a cheap skate. At worst, you won’t get a charitable deduction, and the world will be no better off having you in it. (You wonder why dogs growl and cats hiss when you come by, Scrooge?)

©John Howell 2018

$400 million. Wow…..that is some jackpot and would take a few hours of serious thought on the subject of spending it…!!! Thank you John  for sharing.  Just as a matter of interest. Have you ever won more than £100 or $100 on the Lottery? 

Here is John’s latest book

About Circumstances of Childhood.

When a former pro football star and broadcaster, now a Wall Street maven is accused of insider trading, will he be able to prove his innocence and expose those who are guilty?

Greg and his boyhood pal dreamed of big success in professional football and then later in business. Greg was the only one to live the dream. Now the founder of an investment fund Greg is faced with a routine audit finding by the SEC. The audit points to irregularities and all the tracks lead to Greg. The justice department hits him with an indictment of 23 counts of fraud, money laundering, and insider trading. His firm goes bust, and Greg is on his own.

His best friend knows he is innocent but has been ordered under penalty of eternal damnation not to help.

If you enjoy stories of riches to rags, redemption, brotherly love, and a little of the paranormal, Circumstance of Childhood will keep you riveted.

One of the recent reviews for the book

A Great Tale on January 12, 2018

If John Grisham, Dean Koontz, and Dan Brown got together and decided to collaborate on a book, Circumstances of Childhood would be the result. The book has three distinct components that John Howell blends together seamlessly.

First, there is the friendship that blossoms out of tragedy between Greg and Keith. This part of the book is reminiscent of John Grisham’s YA Theodore Boone series or Stephen King’s The Body (inspiration for the movie, Stand By Me). The book then transitions into more of a Dean Koontz vibe with some other-worldly interaction that is very poignant and fascinating. It then transitions into a fast-paced courtroom drama ala Grisham. This part of the book had me on the edge of my seat. This is then followed by some Dan Brown type computer forensics and good old-fashioned hacking intermingled with more spiritual aspects.

This is a well-rounded book that compelled me to write an email to John while sitting in the Atlanta airport reading the book to tell him I was enjoying it. I look forward to John’s next effort. This was a worthy follow-up to his John J. Cannon trilogy.

Read the reviews and buy the book:

And on Amazon UK:

Also by John W. Howell.

Buy all of the John Cannon Series and find our more about John W. Howell:

and on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow John on Goodreads:

Connect to John via his website:

My thanks to John again and I am looking forward to your feedback.. and if you have won 100 or so on the lottery please include your address so that I can send a begging letter. Thanks Sally


Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – Royal Wedding – Carrot and Banana by Dolly Aizenman

Welcome to a treat straight from the kitchens of Dolly Aizenman along with the history behind the recipe. As we anticipate a royal wedding in the UK in the spring perhaps I should forward this to the parties concerned. Details of Dolly’s recently released cook book later.

Royal Wedding – Carrot and Banana by Dolly Aizenman

February – the stores are decked out in red and pink hearts, furiously marketing in the name of love. Jewelers and bridal salons are having their best time of the year, measuring love in carats and yards of lace. It was in February, cold and gloomy, that King Henry VII, the first Tudor king, proposed to his widowed daughter-in-law, sixteen-year-old Princess Catalina of Aragon, known in England as Catherine.

Little more than a year has passed since a teenage Infanta, the proud and somewhat spoiled daughter of Their Most Catholic Majesties Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain (yes, those Isabella and Ferdinand!) stepped on the slushy English soil as a bride of Prince Arthur, Henry’s son and heir. As befits a princess, she was accompanied by a retinue of attendants, some of whom looked so exotic that commoners, gathered to welcome her entrance into London, ran into two opposite directions: some were pushing closer to get a better look, while others were trying to get away from the black faces of the Moors, never seen in England before. Was the future Queen a golden-haired angel or a vile sorceress who brought unthinkable evil creatures into the land? Both versions were hotly debated, especially when the poor Prince Arthur suddenly became ill and died just a few months after the wedding.

King Henry, the grieving father, was in a quandary. By all rights, the little widow should’ve been sent home to momma, but there was a matter of her dowry, or, to be exact, half of it that had arrived together with her, the other half to be paid.. well… to be paid. At some point in the future. Or so King Ferdinand had assured King Henry, and between the two of them, it’s hard to say who was a more tight-fisted, miserly manipulator. To be politically correct, let’s call them frugal and parsimonious. However, if Catherine were to be sent back, the half already paid would have to be refunded, and Henry just couldn’t bring himself to part with the money. Meanwhile, his wife, Queen Elizabeth, died, and suddenly, he saw a window of opportunity! If he marries his son’s widow, not only would he not have to return the first half of the dowry, but he’ll also be entitled to the balance – wow!

The temptation was great for a sixteen-year old widow: to become a queen, instantaneously. It was King Ferdinand who stopped this train in its tracks. “Wait a minute, – he said, – you have that little ten-year-old show off, that carrot-top kid with no civilized manners, who has now become your heir. What will happen to my daughter after your death? May you live long and prosper, Your Majesty, of course! Oh no, if my daughter is to marry anyone in your G-d forsaken, pardon me, great country, it will be your little pipsqueak, Henry-whatever-his-number-will-be!” Several years of haggling and bickering between the two monarchs allowed Catherine to swear that the marriage to Arthur was never consummated, and thus receive a dispensation to marry Arthur’s brother. “The little pipsqueak,” who has been proclaiming his love and devotion to the golden-haired Infanta ever since he had escorted her to join his brother in holy matrimony, has come of age.

The wedding was kind of understated, by the standards or those times. It was understood, though, that both the bride and the groom were still in mourning, as Catherine’s mother, the all-powerful Queen-militant Isabella has just passed away as well. Henry, however, had a sweet tooth, and being in love with his bride, he offered her some of his favorite treat, carrot pudding. It was quite a novelty, since puddings were mostly meat-based, rather than vegetable-filled, and making a royal pudding that looked more like manchet bread found on a commoner’s table, was unheard of. Catherine, most probably, smiled in her customary reserved infanta-like manner, and took a small bite.

Having grown up in the decadent luxury of the Alhambra palace, captured by her mother from the Moorish king, she was used to a variety of Middle Eastern fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices, and certainly sweets. As a good and dutiful wife, in time she would start an herb and vegetable garden and encourage the exotic fruit and spice trade. It would be a good and reasonable guess that at some point during the sixteen years of her marriage to Henry, her Moor cooks have happily married carrot pudding with bananas to create a delicious offspring – carrot banana bread.


Since I have not been able to find any information about the origins of banana bread, and since all sources seem to agree that carrot bread had evolved from carrot pudding (Henry VIII’s favorite), I have taken all kind of liberties with the recipe. And why not? Look at the liberties Henry has taken with all his wives, starting with Catherine! I am using spelt flour (if you have an allergy to gluten or a celiac disease, please consult your physician), brown sugar, olive oil, baking powder, a dash of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Most importantly, I am abiding by My Own Rules of Dessert: Rule # 1. If it’s not chocolate, it’s not a dessert. Therefore, cocoa powder goes into it. I also add finely chopped walnuts or pecans, whatever I have on hand at the moment.


I have fallen in love with aquafaba. It’s that liquid stuff you get when you cook chickpeas, and it whips into a foam almost like eggs, but it has no cholesterol. Just to think that for years I’ve been pouring it down the drain!

car ban br 2.jpg

Contrary to all the established routines, we mix the dry ingredients first: spelt flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

car ban br 3.jpg

Then we whip aquafaba into a foam, whisk it with olive oil, and mash ripe bananas into it. I prefer to leave them somewhat chunky, but it’s up to you.

car ban br 4.jpg

And here it comes, the marriage of carrot and banana! Introduce the wet ingredients to the dry, add grated carrots and walnuts, and gently mix, just until moistened.

car ban br 5.jpg

It will be a thick, dense bread dough, rather than cake batter. Don’t worry, just place it into a greased loaf pan and bake it for about an hour.

Henry VIII might have been a notorious womanizer, a great scoundrel and a wife-murderer, but, if the legend is true, we have to be grateful to him for this delicious idea.

car ban br 6.jpg

Just look at what came out of my oven, crusty on the outside and moist on the inside – fit for a royal table! But I have to remember the second of My Own Rules of Dessert: Rule # 2. The more chocolate, the better.


I served it drizzled with chocolate syrup and garnished with raspberries. That was one of the best Sunday brunches my husband and I have ever had, or so he claims every Sunday!


  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • A dash of salt
  • 1 cup aquafaba (alternatively, 2 large eggs)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup grated carrots (1 large or 2 medium carrots)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • Optional: chocolate syrup and fresh berries to garnish


  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease loaf pan.
  • Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Put aside.
  • Whip aquafaba to foam consistency, whisk with oil, mash bananas into it.
  • Stir into dry ingredients, add carrots and walnuts, mix gently until moistened.
  • Bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Serve warm, drizzle with chocolate syrup, garnish with fresh berries.


©Dolly Aizenman 2018 images.

Dolly Aizenman has recently published a cookbook – Kool Kosher Kitchen. Many of you may be familiar with Dolly’s blog where she not only shares amazing recipes but the fascinating history attached to them. Dolly published the cookbook in the middle of December, and it is in both print and eBook version.

eBook version

About the cookbook

From the four corners of the world – international fusion cuisine the kosher way! Cook Indian, cook Italian, cook Chinese and Japanese, or cook traditional Jewish; make it vegetarian, pescatarean, or vegan, make it festive and nutritious, always easy to make and delicious, for holiday and every day, but above all, have fun in your kitchen and make your kitchen a fun place to be!

Print version US only

Head over and buy the book in paperback or Ebook:

and Amazon UK:

About Dolly Aizenman

It wasn’t easy to keep kosher in communist Russia, where I was born and lived for 27 years, until I was allowed to leave. You couldn’t go to a kosher store and buy anything, from soup to nuts, with a Hecksher (kosher certification), the way it is in the US. Here, chicken is already shechted (slaughtered) for you, and cows conveniently label their own parts as “beef for stew.” As Yakov Smirnov used to say in the eponymous TV sitcom, “What a country!” After teaching for almost 40 years, I am now semi-retired, I love to cook, and I have time on my hands to share recipes and exchange new food ideas.

My recipes are different from traditional American Jewish food in that I literally adapt recipes from “the four corners of the world” to the guidelines of kashruth (Jewish dietary laws). I invite you to explore with me, to experiment, and by all means, to get your kids involved in the magical fun of transforming this-that-and the other into something spectacular to grace your table.

Connect to Dolly Aizenman


It would be fantastic if you could help blast Dolly’s cookbook out into the world. And I am sure that she would love your feedback. Thanks Sally.


Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – Life was meant to be easy by Rowena Newton- Beyond the Flow

Today a post from Rowena Newton of Beyond the Flow, who has faced some life threatening and changing challenges but clearly faces the long-term issues with positivity and a love of life.

via Smorgasbord Blog Sitting Special – Life was meant to be easy by Rowena Newton- Beyond the Flow